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Poster: bluebirdsingone Date: Apr 30, 2008 5:21pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Donna Jean

You don’t have to look too hard in the comments section to find folks bemoaning Donna Jean’s contributions to the Dead during her tenure. I’m not here to weigh in on that discussion. What I would like to know is if anyone has an idea as to why -- given her lack of singing time on any given set -- she was even on stage with the band? Whether or not she was a good singer, she was put to terrible use as a background or additional singer. Did the band think she was a poor singer but still wanted to use her in some form? Was this a deal with Keith? A case of Jerry not stepping in and saying this is what you need to do (his solo backing-vocals groups are much more integrated into the total group)? I really am curious. This is my first post to the forum, so I’ll end with this: a huge thanks to everyone doing the work to get these shows up for the rest of us. God Bless the Archive! peace.

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Poster: LordOfTheExacto Date: Apr 30, 2008 6:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

I don't recall the specifics, but Phil said in his book that the band asked her to sing, not the other way round.

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Apr 30, 2008 7:45pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

her studio work is dead on and works well amd Garcia probably viewed her past recording experiences as a plus...only some of her live wailing (playin, scarlet) really ever gets offkey, it is hard to sing if you don't have a monitor or a real on stage amp presence...her singing is pretty good in 77-78 for the most part...her tunes like "sunrise" are pretty hippy dippy...each era has it's pros and cons, if you don't like Donna then i can't imagine enjoying the 70s too much...overall, I tolerate her singing, in fact I kind of tune her out without thinking about it...

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Poster: Nothing Special Date: May 1, 2008 4:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

I love Donna. Her singing`s usually awful but it`s part of the experience.
Playin` wouldn`t be the same without that caterwauling.

I`ve just thought of a new thread.

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Poster: byronious Date: Apr 30, 2008 7:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

I love me some Donna Jean and frequently seek to listen to stuff in which she stands out. she sings with passion and soul. I personally have never heard her off key. I can see why a good band would want her in it. different strokes for different folks though. I grew up on southern R&B, so maybe that's why i dig her. As far as her use or lack of, I think it was just appropriate to the music being played.

This post was modified by byronious on 2008-05-01 02:14:27

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Poster: mcgannahan Date: Apr 30, 2008 7:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

she subtracts more than she adds to the dead. definitely right up there with welnick, as far as people who didn't deserve to be in the band.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: May 1, 2008 5:55am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

"she subtracts more than she adds to the dead. definitely right up there with welnick, as far as people who didn't deserve to be in the band."

my thoughts exactly. she certainly ruins portions of many many great 70's shows. thank god for '79

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: May 1, 2008 8:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

Exactly.

If Donna was brought on to be a background singer to support Jerry and Bobby, she should have done just that: be in the backgroud, providing support. A good background singer should never really be seen (or heard) as too up front, instead blending in with the song from the back and binding it together to form a seamless entity without calling attention to themselves. Kind of like the mark of a good umpire is never being talked about during a game. But how many times can you count moments where, for better or worse, Donna is more than noticeable and is being talked about. Like here. I will say that she does have some really good shows where she does her job perfectly, not taking away from the boys and adding that glue to the harmonies. But how often, as in just about every Playin and coutless Scarlet/Fires has your spine curled and your ears gone on strike after a particularly shrill howl or atonal caterwauling. Sorry, for me she is noticed way too much.

This post was modified by SomeDarkHollow on 2008-05-01 15:31:10

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Poster: JamminJerome Date: Apr 30, 2008 7:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

Heard many shows? Donna goes off-key in nearly every show. Sometimes it's worse than others. To be fair, all of them had key issues from time to time.

This much I can say about Donna - when she was on, she was on but when she was off she threw off the whole band.

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Poster: smgarcia Date: May 1, 2008 6:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

Donna had troubles before their 16 month break in 75. After that I thought she added a wonderful element to the band. She had some superlative performances in 1977, just listen to just about any song.

The only thing I never liked was her howling on Playin' In The Band. However...oddly enough...I think that something like that sound works in Playin', but it just didn't with Donna especially during 72 - 74.

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Poster: He Live's Date: May 1, 2008 8:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

i agree with smgarcia -- post break she seemed to have gained a role -- like they realized she was there for the first time and told her what to do.....

"oh you're the girl who came out at the end of all those playin in the bands.... why don't you try this...."

i think in 76/77 she had a great rapport with jerry on stage and added nice backup vox on the some ballads like FOTD and Candyman -- she was usually a very welcome addition to the sing-along on He's Gone and i believe some of their vocal workouts on the Dancin' outro were downright righteous.


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Poster: Uncle Kryss Date: Apr 30, 2008 7:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean

Just started groovin' to this show, make your own key judgement > http://www.archive.org/details/gd1973-02-19.set2.sbd.miller.83023.flac16

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Poster: tigerbolt Date: May 1, 2008 5:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean(Who The Hell Thought It Was O.K. For Brent To Sing

i'm a former donna basher but have grown to like her voice,esp
with the jerry garcia band and really my only previous gripe
of donna was her re entry on playing in the band and some scarlet's but i've learned to tune that out.the real question
is who in the band thought it was a good idea for brent to sing.come on wtf is up with that metro male singing like
"i will gag you home"donna was just a few seconds but brent
had whole songs.that's just me,love his keys but except for a couple of version his singing was a mood killer.

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Poster: SkyDawg Date: May 2, 2008 2:20am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Donna Jean( Give Donna Jean Her Due!)

You really have to give Donna her due though..she ran for about 6 or 7 years with a pretty rough & rowdy gang and she toughed it out! Her first official gig was a Hell's Angels benefit show after all! No one should totally rip Donna. If she were a man you might say she really had BALLS! She stuck it out through thick & thin with a wild & wooly gang between the band, the crew, their friends and the people who went to the shows through what many folks think of as a "Golden Age" of Dead shows, 1972-1978/9.

This post was modified by SkyDawg on 2008-05-02 09:20:12

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Poster: William Tell Date: May 1, 2008 9:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Three points to make again...

1) agree about Brent; stopped going before he really started singing, but what I heard later did not impress.

2) as to "why did they ask her?!" I think they recognized that harmonies were important, but something they did (often, not always) poorly live. Phil talks about why he stopped singing (at least he was self aware), but I think he and Jerry recognized the need for it. That's my take on it.

3) did DJ "work" with respect to point 2 above? I think here is where personal preference comes in. The wailing on PITB and GSET (argh!!!) is self evident (most agree it didn't work), but on HGone/RJimmy, it is variable. I played a RJimmy from the 73 box for the wife: I thought it was the best possible use of her, but the wife said, and she should know, that "she was off key" and it was ANYTHING but a good addition. I thought it was good, but as pointed out, it depends on your take on DJ's voice...

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Poster: mcgannahan Date: May 1, 2008 10:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Three points to make again...

i'll take brent's singing over bob's falsetto anyday.

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Poster: northstar dead Date: May 1, 2008 2:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Three points to make again...

I liked me some Brent singing also. Far from me, Take you Home, yeah I liked the song and Just a little light. Liked his backing vocals on many other songs too.